Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Check out Joyfully Thriving!

I'm featured over at Joyfully Thriving in Kristen's "Meet a Frugal Lutheran" series!

While you're over there, check out her coupon posts and her CVS deals and get inspiration from her shopping posts. These are the stories Mike and I listened to over our monthly meals that inspired the blog.

If saving money isn't really your thing (for the fabulously wealthy among my readers), Kristen also provides some inspirational posts through Sunday's Scripture and a Snapshot (her own pics) and her participation in Multitudes on Mondays.

Thanks for sharing your space, Kristen!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On Fasting

As far as spiritual disciplines go, fasting is not really on my radar. I've had friends who are Catholic restrict their meat intake during Lent. Every year, my "Theology" blogs fill with what to give up for Lent. College friends fasted for 72 hours and youth groups did fundraising (and awareness-raising) through the 30-hour famine. But for me, the most I've ever given up for Lent is Diet Coke and that was hard. As one who is primarily motivated guilt and feels guilty about that, I structure my spiritual disciplines around the things that don't inspire guilt. And giving up stuff only to fail doesn't fit the paradigm.

So A Women's Guide to Fasting shows up in the mail. I must have chosen it, but the lag times lead to forgetfulness. And I'm intrigued. And I was pleasantly surprised.

The author, Lisa Nelson, is a just a regular Christian, definitely not Lutheran, former Army JAG officer. She lays out the types of fasts one can do, the reasons for fasting, and what you need to know to be successful in your fast. But she does all this with the constant reminder that failing isn't failing God and one is not required to fast to be a Christian. It's remarkably guilt free. She even includes her own struggles with fasting. Perfection is not required.

There's still an air of the mystical that brings out my skeptical nature. And I'm not sure I'll be starting a fast anytime soon. (Besides this is the time for feasting which can be detrimental to any fast.) But I'm willing to be more open to the possibility.

However, the one thing I'll take from the book regardless of spiritual discipline is the following line:
"walk by faith and not by guilt"
I can get behind a life like that.

Disclaimer: Bethany House send me this book for review, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tiny Thanks

It's been a tough November. After the overwhelming gratefulness I felt for the generous people in my life in September (and October evidently...), I have found it hard to reach that depth of emotion again. It's there. I recognize that I have been blessed. It's just that my expression feels trite and fake.

So rather than stress myself out by feeling guilty about not being able to express my gratefulness, I finding the little things. Here's what I'm grateful for even when I'm having trouble finding big swathes of thanksgiving:
  • A Starbucks on campus even though it tempts me to spend more than I should.
  • Pretty little tech toys. (I'm looking at you shiny iPad.)
  • Fuzzy blankets.
  • Tech ops in the CIA.
  • Days with sunshine.
  • Chick-fil-A.
  • Fiction that's only redeeming quality is that I LOVE it.
  • Little flash drives that hold lots of stuff.
  • Free washing machines.
  • Purple nail polish.
  • Mornings free for movie.
  • Harry Potter!
  • Diet Coke.
  • The rediscovery of tapioca pudding.

They aren't much, but they're bright spots in my day.

I've crossposted at Via Scribendi. Read much better thoughts about gratitude and thankfulness from my fellow bloggers.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Altered Perception

My grandpa died when I was 10. I had lost family members before and I have lost more since then, mostly due to the all too common problem of old age. But Grandpa Arno's death was a shock. A few weeks before, we had moved to St. Louis, my mom's hometown, and Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Dave and other relatives helped us get our lemon yellow ranch house into shape. It was a traumatic move, but I loved the idea that we'd be near one of my baby cousins.

Then Grandma and Grandpa went on a trip to Ohio. And one morning, I heard Mom crying on the telephone. "Who died?" I thought in a mildly sarcastic way. (My mom is known for her emotions. I've inherited this trait.) And it turned out I was right. And I cried. A lot. A lot, a lot.

But we moved on as is the way of life. We had the funeral. We talked about how my cousins, the oldest of whom was 1 1/2, would never really remember Grandpa Arno. 5 years later, Grandma met a wonderful man who became part of our family. And now 19 years ago seems like an eternity.

Last week, I visited my great-uncle and great-aunt up in northern Ohio. While one of my dear second cousins is their grandchild, I'd never visited, but time and circumstance made this trip just right. My great-uncle walked me up to the guest room showing me the Children's Hideaway and down the hallway. Suddenly it hit me. This is where my grandpa died. I don't know for sure. I definitely didn't ask though the general topic came up during the evening I spent with them. But I sat in bed, texting Mike, and gently probing my feelings.

When I heard the story of my grandpa's death, I had pictured it in their house in St. Louis. The only setting I really had for them. But there's more. My parents are in the process of moving back to St. Louis, staying with my grandma in a section of the house that didn't exist in 1992. And while I am generally considered an adult, I find this transition distinctly unsettling. My parents aren't in the spot where I expect them to be. And seeing my great-uncle and -aunt's house, I realize things often aren't what I expect them to be.

I don't know what will come out of this, but part of my history has changed.